For the fourth time since coming to power in Maharashtra, the BJP government Wednesday tabled the contentious Bill regarding changes to the structure of the various Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMC) in the legislative assembly.
The bill permits the state government to appoint ‘experts’ on these elected committees, which continue to be controlled by the Congress and NCP heavyweights. The Opposition has been blocking the passage of the bill in the legislature. It has accused the BJP of seeking a backdoor entry into these committees for its party workers.
Although the BJP had used the majority it enjoys in the Lower House to pass the bill before, the Upper House, where Congress, NCP have greater numbers, rejected it.
On Wednesday, NCP’s Ajit Pawar lambasted the government. “The BJP is out to destroy democratically elected bodies in these committees for its own gains. In the garb of experts, it is seeking a backdoor entry for its own political workers,” he said.
Congress’s Sunil Kedar echoed Pawar’s viewpoint. “The bill doesn’t even define who can be termed an expert,” he said. Both Pawar and Kedar said that the government must not politicise functioning of the committees. While the treasury benches have argued that incorporation of experts would strengthen such committees, both Pawar and Kedar said that the government can do the same through various other reforms. “It can also ask the elected committees to nominate experts on their own,” Pawar said.
To upset the ruling regime’s calculations, Pawar was also seen urging Shiv Sena members not to support “a draconian” bill.